Not every foundation is best for each structure you build—a shallow foundation might work for the land in one of your projects due to a stronger soil type like loam. The same foundation could be potentially hazardous at another location with clay soil. Structural engineers and construction contractors must choose the best foundation for a building based on the criteria we’ll list below. Familiarize yourself with these factors to determine which foundation is best for your project.
Look Into Previous Land Use
Before breaking ground on the construction site, look into what type of building and foundation was previously on the land. You can better understand what worked for the previous building and what didn’t. Contractors and structural engineers can be aware of contaminants and other below-ground components, such as sewer and electrical lines, from the land’s history.
What the Topographical Landscape Looks Like
An essential factor to consider when choosing the best foundation for a building is the topographical landscape of the land you plan to build on. This includes any slopes in the vicinity, bodies of water nearby, and the condition or type of the soil. The landscape’s visuals will help the crew determine which foundation will provide the best strength and durability for the construction project.
The Weight-Bearing Capacity of the Soil
The most significant factor contractors need to remember is the weight-bearing capacity of the soil they’re about to build on. Knowing how much weight you can place on top of the soil is vital because placing a shallow foundation on top of low-weight-bearing soil could cause your foundation to collapse. Know the difference between shallow and deep foundations to decide which one is best for the type of soil you’re working on. For example, loam soil is perfect for construction because the combination of sand, silt, and clay offers maximum support for shallow foundations.
The Location of the Groundwater Table
How far below the surface of the soil is the groundwater table? The closer the groundwater is to the earth’s surface, the more issues you could potentially have with the foundation. However, if you find the water is deeper in the soil, you can easily and safely build a shallow foundation atop it. You can locate the groundwater level by measuring a shallow well with a tape measure or other geophysical methods.
The foundation is one of the most important components of a building. Determining which foundation to place on the land is an integral part of the construction process. Other factors you could consider include how much weight will go on the foundation and the weather conditions in your location. Use the guide above to help you decide which foundation is the safest to build for your construction project.